Role of corticosteroids in the antidepressant response
Tomasz Pierscionek, Oluyemi Adekunte, Stuart Watson, I Nicol Ferrier, Akintunde Alabi
Wolfson Research Institute, Institute of Neuroscience, Newcastle University, Campus for Ageing and Health, Newcastle upon Tyne, UK
Abstract: Anything that engenders a homeostatic response in the tightly regulated hypothalamic–pituitary–adrenal (HPA) axis may be thought of as a stressor and may exert an allostatic load, engendering a sustained change in the regulation of this system. Genetic, epigenetic, endocrine, post mortem, and animal studies suggest that dysregulation of the HPA axis plays a part in the pathophysiology of mood disorders and negatively impacts the antidepressant response and prognosis. Neuropsychological impairment, which is a common and disabling concomitant of depression, has been linked to disturbance of the HPA axis. A number of HPA axis-mediated treatment strategies have shown benefit in open or small-scale preliminary trials, and there are ongoing studies seeking both to replicate these initial findings and to develop new targets. HPA axis-based treatments are a fertile area of research, and much current thought pertains to the optimum targets, optimum population (including the potential for stratified medicine), and optimum outcome measures. We have, for instance, argued here that neuropsychological performance may be more sensitive and robust than scores on traditional depression rating scales.
Keywords: hypothalamic–pituitary–adrenal axis, cortisol, corticotrophin-releasing hormone, arginine vasopressin, depression, bipolar disorder, antidepressant response
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